France calls for Iranian restraint as top diplomat cancels trip
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France calls for Iranian restraint as top diplomat cancels trip

In call with Rouhani, Macron notes high number of demonstrators killed

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, addresses the "MiSK Global Forum" in the Saudi capital Riyadh on November 16, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / FAYEZ NURELDINE)
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, addresses the "MiSK Global Forum" in the Saudi capital Riyadh on November 16, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / FAYEZ NURELDINE)

French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday decided in a call with his Iranian counterpart to postpone the Tehran visit of French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian to a later date, the Elysee said.

Macron expressed his concern over unrest in Iran during a telephone conversation with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and called for “restraint and appeasement,” his office said.

Macron brought up “the number of victims from the demonstrations,” and the two leaders also decided to delay Le Drian’s trip — scheduled for Friday — to a later date, the Elysee said.

Twenty-one people have died in the Iranian protests.

During the call, Rouhani demanded Macron take action against a “terrorist” Iranian opposition group he accused of fomenting recent protests.

“We criticize the fact that a terrorist group has a base in France and acts against the Iranian people… and we await action from the French government against this terrorist group,” Rouhani told Macron, according to a report on Iranian state television.

France’s President Emmanuel Macron, left, meets his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani in New York, September 19, 2017. (AFP Photo/Ludovic Marin)

He was referring to an exiled Iranian opposition group based in Paris and called the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq.

Iranian authorities accuse the group, which the regime describes as “hypocrites,” of fueling the unrest rocking the Islamic republic and of links with regional Sunni rival Saudi Arabia.

General Rassul Sanairad, a political deputy to the head of the powerful Revolutionary Guards, said Tuesday the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq had been instructed by the Saudi rulers and some European states to “create insecurity” in Iran, the semi-official Tasnim news agency reported.

Earlier on Tuesday, France expressed concern over the “number of victims and arrests” in the protests roiling Iran. The Foreign Ministry said “the right to protest freely is a fundamental right.”

It also said human rights will be a top priority in France’s discussions with Iranian authorities in the coming weeks.

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